UMass Seminar for Students and Community Members

UMass Seminar for Students and Community Members

A Spirituality Perspective on Environmental Sustainability: A Call to Action

NRC 597 SE (SPIRE 29199) – January 21 – April 29, 2015



LOCATION: Newman Center Burke Lounge on the UMass Campus (472 North Pleasant St.)

TIME: Wednesday 7:00-8:30pm

STUDENT REGISTRATION: UMass Students may register for Natural Resource Conservation NRC 597 SE (SPIRE 29199) – Five College Students should contact Dr. Craig Nicolson

COMMUNITY MEMBER REGISTRATION: Contact Mary Jo Maffei at or 413-265-6390

The purpose of the seminar is to develop an understanding of how spirituality can foster environmental action and to build a connection between community members and college students around this topic.  Students will receive one credit pass-fail and community members will discover a connection to the student community and the environment.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will engage in a learning community resulting in a deeper understanding of spirituality and ecology
  • Students and community members will work together to engage in environmental learning as well as personal and collective action
  • Participants will explore how their own sense of spirituality informs their understanding of ecological issues and challenges to global sustainability

Each week will feature a reading or presentation, a facilitated discussion, and reflection on personal and group action.   There will be a group project or projects determined by the participants that will likely require time outside of class.

Tentative Schedule

Date          Guest  Speaker_____________                       Topic_________________________

Jan 21 – Dr. Craig Nicolson –      Welcome and building a learning community.  Discussion on A Reading.

Jan 28 – Rabbi  Jacob Fine –       The Sacred, Animate Earth: Jewish Perspectives on the Place of Humans in a More than Human World.  Discussion on this reading (please read this before class).    Also,  (here is an optional online reading) to complement the discussion.

Feb 4 – Dr. Craig Nicolson –       A Catholic Perspective on Spirituality and the Environment.  Please read before class for discussion.

Feb 11 – Dr. Daniel Greenberg –      Environmental Activism – Despair and Empowerment  Please read before class.

Feb 18 – This evening will be devoted to planning an action project for the semester

Feb 25   – Mary Jo Maffei –   Caring for the Soul through the Natural World: a discussion between Thomas Moore and Jane Goodall.  Please read the following and consider these questions:

March 4 – The Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas – Missioner for Creation Care

PLEASE read in preparation the following sermons:

Nick Grabbe posted a follow up story on the presentation titled “Addiction as Metaphor”.

March 11 – Dr. Erin Baker –      Climate Change Mitigation (PowerPoint Attached)

No readings this week.  Dr. Erin Baker will be talking about the challenges and opportunities related to mitigating climate change by reducing our emissions of greenhouse gasses.  We will also explore what motivates us to take action.

March 25 – Mark Hart –     Writing the Earth/Righting the Earth: Spirituality and Ecology in Poetry.  Please see the assignment and readings linked here.

April 1 –  Dr. John M. Gerber –  Healing the Ecological Self: One Soul at a Time

April 8 – Patrick Bensen –  Even the Fish in the Sea Pray for a Person Who Seeks Knowledge: Humanity’s Role in the World from an Islamic Perspective  Please read!

April 11 (Saturday) –      Optional Nature Walk  – meet at 1:45pm at the Newman Center for a walk to the nearby woods.

April 15 – Project Planning

April 22 – Earth Day Potluck!

April 29 – Evaluation and Celebration


Co-sponsored by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Newman Catholic Center Environmental Committee